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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Bulls in a China shop

Inbound traffic

International visitor numbers had been fairly flat for some years post-2007 in Australia at just over 5 million per annum, largely thanks to the small matter of a global financial crisis and then a supremely strong Australian dollar. 

As the global outlook brightened and the Reserve Bank began to cut interest rates, the Aussie dollar fell and tourists and other international visitors began to surge to Australia in droves.

According to Tourism Research Australia (TRA) in the 2017 financial year we saw another tremendous +8.7 per cent lift in visitor numbers to just under 8 million, the increase being driven by a spree of holidaymakers and international student arrivals. 

In terms of where visitors came from, there has been huge and ongoing percentage growth in arrivals from countries such as India, Japan, Canada, and the United States, exchange rate shifts being an obvious driver for the latter. 

But in terms of the sheer weight of numbers it's hard to look beyond China & Hong Kong as a tremendous source of expansion. 

At least as interesting as the number of international visitors is the growth in dollar spend within Australia, with China once again leading the way with abandon. 

The total trip spend by those hailing from the Chinese markets has utterly dwarfed that of every other country.

Stronger for longer

The average length of stay of international visitors from China vastly exceeds that of most other countries, in part because so many Chinese come to Australia to study, with education presently being one of Australia's most thriving sectors alongside tourism. 

The statistics also showed that some 207,500 Chinese came to visit friends & relatives across the financial year, and those doing so stayed much longer on average (at a luxuriously extended 54 nights) than the equivalent visitors from, say, New Zealand (at a a rather more fleeting 11 nights). 

And how the Australian economy has benefited, with international visitors from China spending a thumping +15.9 per cent more in Australia in the 2017 financial year at $7.65 billion. 

Total dollars spent in Australia by international visitors thus also surged by +9.8 per cent to just shy of $28 billion.

Chinese visitor numbers have been projected to comfortably more than double over the coming decade.

And looking at the dollars being spent tourism regions and operators should be bending over backwards to attract the Chinese spending wave.